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Published in vol. 10, no. 1 (January 2009) of Theoretical Inquiries in Law.


Theories of property presuppose conceptions of community, and of the individual's relationship to community. In contrast to the dominant theories of community at work within most Anglo-American property theorizing, which view community obligations as fundamentally instrumental and contractual, we propose in this paper a theory that views the relationship between the individual and community as constitutive and substantive. Human beings' dependence on others to flourish imposes on political communities and their individual members a shared obligation to foster and contribute to the creation and maintenance of those structures necessary for that flourishing. This obligation in turn qualifies individual rights of property, empowering, and, under the right circumstances, compelling the state to take from some in order to safeguard access to needed resources for others.

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